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Jan12FriFor Shawn Perkins, soldiership means being there for those less fortunate and honouring God. January 12, 2018 by Ken Ramstead
Shawn Perkins couldn’t contain himself after hearing the sermon preached by Lieutenant Mark Young that morning at The Salvation Army’s Weetamah Corps in Winnipeg.
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“I went up to Lieutenant Mark and I said, ‘Others.’ ”
Perkins was referring to the famous one-word Christmas telegram that General William Booth sent out just before his death.
Lieutenant Young looked back at him and repeated the word, as if in confirmation: “Others.”
“I want to help others,” continues Perkins. “Wearing my uniform as a soldier means that I am there for those ‘others’ that need help, those less fortunate than myself.”
Right at Home
Perkins and his wife, Bonita, made contact with The Salvation Army through Community Venture, which provides developmental day programming, residential care, transportation, outreach and respite services to adults living with intellectual disabilities.
“The couple were living in very poor conditions, and their social worker contacted us to see if we could find someplace suitable for them,” says Major Shelley Kerr, Community Venture’s coordinator of spiritual care. “We facilitated their move into a healthier location.”
Eventually, they began attending Community Venture’s day programming at the Weetamah Corps location.
One of Major Kerr’s responsibilities is to ensure that those in residential care have the opportunity to attend the church of their choice, and so she asked the Perkinses if they would be interested in going to a church service at Weetamah along with some of the other residents.
“I was aware that The Salvation Army was a church,” says Perkins. “So when Major Shelley asked me if I would be interested, I said, ‘yes.’
“I loved it,” he continues. “Everyone there was friendly, uplifting and caring. I felt at home right away.”
Perkins soon became a regular attendee at Weetamah.
“He entered into worship with a passion,” says Lieutenant Young, who is now planting a new Salvation Army corps in Winnipeg. “On many occasions, he would come back to ask me questions about a message I had preached weeks before; he just wanted clarification and encouragement that he was putting it into practice.”
Within weeks, he approached the lieutenant to inquire about becoming a soldier.
“It was something I needed to do,” explains Perkins. “I wanted to be a part of the Army because they help so many people and they’re so caring and loving.
“And it was God’s calling for me,” he continues. “It was a spiritual thing.”
Lieutenant Young and Major Kerr took Perkins’ request as seriously as he did.
“We worked out a preparation class for Shawn,” says Major Kerr, “posing questions in language he’d understand, and he also viewed some Salvation Army history videos. We asked if he understood the Soldier’s Covenant, and we both felt he had a firm grasp of it.”
“I have never sat with someone who articulated a more convincing testimony about their love and commitment to Jesus,” says Lieutenant Young. “I knew from that moment he was more than ready to be a uniformed soldier of The Salvation Army.”
Perkins was enrolled this past June by Lieutenant Young.
“You could see how proud Shawn was to become a soldier,” he says. “He assured everyone in the congregation Jesus was first in his life and that he was going to serve him in The Salvation Army.”
Part of Something Bigger
“Shawn is so proud of his new Salvation Army uniform,” reports Major Kerr. “He knows that wearing it is a responsibility because people are watching him.”
“I always want to have my uniform on,” says Perkins, smiling. “It means I am respecting God, and that I am here to help people who need help.”
Perkins loves to serve others, says Major Kerr. Every week, he helps unload food for family services and he is often the greeter at Weetamah Corps. He also proudly manned the kettle this past Christmas, and intends to do so in the years to come.
“I feel a part of The Salvation Army now. I love Jesus, and I want everyone to know.”